By Mark Kleis
Friday, Oct 1st, 2010 @ 3:54 pm
 
Lotus can easily lay claim to the most ambitious effort at an auto show by any automaker for 2010 with its almost unbelievable revealing of five new models - but add one more, the City Car Concept.

Unlike the rest of the vehicles revealed in Paris, this Lotus has an entirely different view on "performance." The Lotus City Car Concept is a series hybrid - think Chevy Volt - with a unique Lotus touch of engineering and style.

The City Car Concept boasts a 60 km electric-only range, or a 37 mile range for us Americans thanks to a plug-in lithium-ion battery pack. Should one desire or need to travel further than the electric-only range allows, the City Car Concept will fire up its range-extending engine, a 1.2-liter, three-cylinder Lotus Range Extender engine. This engine is uniquely designed by Lotus for this purpose, and provides for 54 kW continuous and 162 kW peak charging capability, along with 177 lb-ft of torque.

Although the City Car weighs in at 1,400 kg (3,086 lbs), it still is capable of a full range of 500 km, or 310 miles. This means the City Car could function in a traditional single-car role quite well - as long as you didn't have a large family or large objects to move around.

Despite its eco-minded design and relative bulk due to the batteries, the City Car can accelerate from zero-to-50 km/h in 4.5 seconds, and zero-to-100 km/h in nine seconds. That translates to roughly 31 miles per hour in 4.5 seconds, and a very respectable nine second sprint to 62 miles per hour.

Enough about tech specs, let's talk Lotus design
Although the City Car Concept is undoubtedly intended to provide Lotus with a boost in fleet-wide fuel economy needed to meet increasingly demanding CAFE and EPA regulations, the storied British automaker didn't just design an efficient powertrain and call it a day. As far as "city cars" are concerned, this Lotus packs a decent punch in the cosmetics department.

Lotus says they sought to create a sculpted design, possessing a solid-yet-purposeful sportscar stance, without compromising in terms of the vehicle's city-minded efficiency. Compared to the Smart car or Toyota iQ, the distinctive Lotus mouth and diffuser give the car purpose, with the wide track, low ride height and bigger wheels that help to convey sportcar styling.

Adding to the usually lacking application of sex appeal in the segment, a dramatic glass roof is incorporated into the design to further increase visibility and style. Under the glass roof, the interior is upholstered in a luxuriant green and yellow tartan fabric. The interior is also splashed with a generous use of carbon fiber for weight savings and style, and high quality leather for comfort and appeal.


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